A Seattle-area man is under arrest for allegedly mailing packages containing explosive materials to military bases, the Secret Service, and the CIA.
The man was found because he has sent “crank” letters to the military in the past, which were similar to notes included in the packages.
This allowed the FBI to arrest Thanh Cong Phan within hours after the packages arrived at the military bases and federal law enforcement facilities.
Hours after news that suspicious packages were turning up in and around Washington, D.C., an arrest was made on the other side of the country. Thanh Cong Phan, 43, appeared in court in Washington state a little more than 24 hours after 11 packages he allegedly mailed arrived at military bases in the D.C. area.
Phan had a history of writing crank letters to the military, and rambling notes included in the packages immediately fingered him as a suspect. He was arrested at his home in Everett, Washington, on Monday night, much to the surprise of a neighbor.
“I’m in shock, I don’t know what to say, its so close to my house,” the neighbor said.
Phan has been charged with one count of shipping explosive materials, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
It appears Phan’s anger towards the military led him to send packages to bases in the Washington, D.C. area.
The packages contained what the FBI called “potential destructive devices” and were sent to government mail-processing facilities at the CIA, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and Fort McNair.
The package at Fort McNair was addressed to the National Defense University and contained black powder and a fuse. One at Fort Belvoir was meant for the National Geospatial Agency, the intelligence organization which analyzes spy photos taken by satellites. Another package was addressed to the Secret Service.
None of the packages exploded.
The motive for mailing the packages is unclear and the FBI warns that additional packages may show up at other mail processing facilities in the D.C. area.
“The joint investigation with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service continues at this time. It is possible that further packages were mailed to additional mail processing facilities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The FBI takes all suspicious packages seriously and has been coordinating with our local, state, and federal partners on established protocols of how to handle suspicious packages,” the FBI’s Washington field office said. “The FBI continues to advise the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move, or handle any suspicious or unknown packages.”
NBC cited sources as saying a dozen packages were mailed to military and government addresses in the D.C. area, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Secret Service.
The packages reportedly were accompanied by “rambling and disturbing” notes, and while at least two contained explosive material they apparently weren’t functioning explosive devices.